Exposure to loud noises, no matter how frequently, can lead to irreversible hearing damage and hearing loss. If that wasn’t scary enough, loud noises contribute to workplace accidents and further health issues.
With so many sources of loud noises on construction sites, it’s easy to see why hearing protection is an essential form of personal protective equipment and why safety measures have to be put into place to prevent hearing harm.
If you work with or near tools or jobs that create loud noises, the hearing protection safety tips we will dive into below are for you!
Tips to Prevent Hearing Loss
There are plenty of ways to manage construction noise, and you don’t have to wait until the work is already underway to implement them. In fact, you should work to implement OSHA hearing protection standards before the job begins.
Start Planning for Before Work Starts
You can ensure all construction workers are properly protected from loud noises before the work even starts on the site. It’s best to plan your noise control measures in the following stages:
- At the Design Stage: Layout the construction site to isolate the jobs and machinery that will make the most noise.
- Organizational Stage: Ensure that hearing protection is accounted for by management and that protection plans are put into place for when work starts.
- Contractual Stage: Double check that all contractors are compliant with hearing protection measures and understand OSHA’s hearing protection standards.
- Building Phase: Use this time to assess any hearing risks, and eliminate or control them, then review the assessment and make the necessary changes.
Generally speaking, you will want to use this pre-construction time to set aside funds for the prevention of and protection against loud noises, as well as set the needed noise control requirements that at least meet national standards. It’s also a best practice to plan the work process out to minimize worker’s exposure to loud noises.
Keep Vigilant While Work Happens
Although you’ve planned the site out to eliminate loud noises, there are additional hearing safety measures you can take once work starts on the construction site. The best ways to manage noise on a construction site are to assess, eliminate, control, and review the noise sources.
Of course, once you’ve assessed the noise source, you should attempt to remove it from the workplace. If the noise is coming from an essential piece of equipment, you need to try to control the noise, and then review your efforts to see if they were effective.
Try implementing one or more of these noise reduction and control methods on your worksite:
- Use equipment with lower noise emissions
- Avoid metal on metal impacts
- Use damping or fitting silencers to reduce vibrating parts
- Maintain a regular maintenance schedule
- Isolate the noisy equipment and machinery using noise barriers, slab measures, absorbent materials
- Create work schedules that avoid the majority of the noise
Use Personal Hearing Protection
To top off all the other hearing protection methods we mentioned above, personal hearing protection should be used at all times. Consider over the ear types of hearing protection as part of the work uniform. Select an option that’s both comfortable to wear and protects from harsh noises.
The use of personal hearing protection should be enforced on all worksites and the hearing protection offered needs to be suitable for the job and the level of noise. Don’t forget that your hearing protection needs to be compatible with other protective equipment, like helmets or masks.
OSHA Standards for Construction Noise
OSHA has outlined specific standards for noise in construction that apply on the national level. These standards are outlined in 29 CFR 1926 – specifically Subpart D and Subpart E. OSHA requires that not only should personal hearing protection be provided to all applicable workers, but also that noise reduction controls should be implemented at the design and building phases (as we mentioned above).
It’s important to note that OSHA standards do not apply to all construction noises, but rather to those above specific decibel levels or those that occur frequently.
Don’t Miss Out on Training
Training is an essential part of noise control. Anyone who works directly with or near machinery that emits loud noises should undergo safety training to learn how to protect themselves from related loud noises. For hearing protection best practices, consider taking one of our online OSHA training courses.